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Lake Tahoe Honeymoon

13 Feb

When trying to settle on a honeymoon destination there were few different ideas we thought about. First, a cruise seemed like a good idea. Then a road trip seemed fun. To Utah! To Colorado! To Canada! Finally, we decided that a mini-road trip to Lake Tahoe would be our best bet. We love the outdoors but still wanted some luxury accommodations and didn’t have a lot of money to spend. Lake Tahoe seemed to fit all those requirements and it’s a place I’d never been to and Kyle never visited during the summer.Honeymoon at Lake Tahoe

We were able to enjoy the outdoors by taking hikes, jet skiing, swimming and riding the gondola to enjoy the scenic views. Then we also stayed at a nice little hotel with a fireplace and hot tub in the room. We enjoyed a sunset dinner cruise around the lake and a nice dinner at a casino. It was the perfect blend of outdoorsy fun and “typical” honeymoon activities. We spent a full week in Lake Tahoe and really took our time to explore the area and take time to relax and unwind as a married couple for the first time!

We enjoy taking road trips for the most part because it gives us time to bond, we play music we like and delve into conversation. We like checking out the scenery and ask each other questions. Also, thanks to technology if we wonder about something we pass by on the road we can Google it!

Kyle and Monique Abrahamsen

Newlywed and snapping a selfie at a desert rest stop on our way to Lake Tahoe.

We stayed at Secrets Inn, a small hotel just a short walk from the lake and casinos. The perfect location! We love this hotel and I would recommend it to a friend. You can find my full review of Secrets Inn on Yelp just click here. On our first day out we went jet skiing. We had a blast! I admit I’m a bit of a scaredy cat and didn’t want Kyle to go too fast but we did end up falling into the lake at one point and it was FREEZING cold!

jet ski Lake Tahoe

Snapped this right before jet skiing on the lake.

We enjoyed a casual dinner at State-line Brewery and Restaurant. This was a short walk away from our hotel so we took our time tasting different local brews and really enjoyed our vacation. And yeah, it’s located right on the Nevada/California state-line heh heh…

At State-line Brewery and Restaurant

At State-line Brewery and Restaurant

Next day we took a ride on the Heavenly Gondola where we enjoyed scenic views and a challenging hike. Heavenly is the name of the main ski resort in South Lake Tahoe. We were right across the street from the main resort so we got to enjoy the resort without paying resort prices!

Selfie in the gondola!

Selfie in the gondola!

Monique Is Blog Hike Lake Tahoe

Taking pictures during our hike

Lake Tahoe is so beautiful!

Lake Tahoe is so beautiful!

I believe we hiked 3-4 times during our week long stay. We really stayed active during the day and treated ourselves at night. I was so proud of myself being able to do so much activity and not feel tired. I worked hard the months leading up to the wedding to be in good shape and good health for the wedding and this trip.

Honeymoon Lake Tahoe

This photo is from a different hike on a different day. This is a view of Emerald Bay.

One place I’d like to return to is Sugar Pine Point State Park. First, the park ranger was a sweetheart, he saw all the “Just Married” scribblings on our car and let us in the park for free. Second–it’s absolutely gorgeous! I would love to come back and camp there. The trees are SUPER TALL and the water is peaceful, not too many people around so you can have a little piece of the lake all to yourself if you want. We also saw a couple touring the grounds to plan their wedding!

Kyle Abrahamsen Sugar Pine Lake Tahoe

Kyle next to the SUPER TALL trees at Sugar Pine Point

The sunset dinner cruise on the MS Dixie II from Zephyr Cove to Emerald Bay was amazing. This was one of the “luxury” things we really wanted to do. There was a band and dance floor and they played typical cheesy cruise type music, like Jimmy Buffet songs. It was fun! We were absolutely the first couple to hit the dance floor and one older lady told us we were the “bravest” couple on the cruise. I think we just exuded happiness and positive energy!

Yet another selfie...this time on the sunset dinner cruise.

Yet another selfie…this time on the sunset dinner cruise.

Another luxury type thing we wanted to experience was a show at one of the hotel/casinos. We found out comedian Whitney Cummings was performing so we bought tickets and laughed the night away. Again, very short walking distance from the hotel so we both enjoyed drinks and laughs and walked back to the hotel safely. We were really in a great location.

About to see comedian Whitney Cummings at MontBleu Hotel and Casino.

About to see comedian Whitney Cummings at MontBleu Hotel and Casino.

So that’s how you honeymoon in Lake Tahoe on a tight budget! I will be honest, monetary wedding gifts helped make this honeymoon complete. We made sure to send thank you notes to each person that helped make this an amazing vacation. We really experienced the best of both worlds.

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Some Things I Learned About Weddings

11 Feb

In writing this post I don’t want to come off as mean, bitchy or ungrateful. Let’s face it–wedding planning can be super stressful and a lot to manage. Aside from the fun parts of trying on dresses, tasting cakes and looking at flowers there are difficult parts of planning as well. For me the most difficult part was the guest list. This caused the most stress, pain and worry in the whole process! I’m writing this post now because we are so close to Valentine’s Day and a lot of people get engaged around that time. This might help future brides and grooms and their potential guests!

When you get engaged you’re excited, elated and you want to share the good news with everyone! Then it comes down to planning details and the biggest thing to consider is your budget. Money is everything especially when you don’t have much to spare. We planned our wedding on a very tight budget and every guest counts. Each person equals $$$. That’s just the honest reality.

I was put into many awkward situations and I hate to disappoint people and have a hard time saying no. I never want to be perceived as mean, or heartless. As a wedding guest or person who knows an engaged couple, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

1. Don’t ask if you’re invited. Especially don’t ask over social media. Like on an Instagram comment. That puts the couple in a very awkward situation because if you are not invited they then have to very carefully tell you “no”publicly. And then everyone feels bad. And awkward. Also, don’t ask over text. Just don’t ask. Be patient and wait for an invitation, if you don’t get one that unfortunately means you are not invited. Don’t take it as an insult. The couple most likely has certain constraints whether it be budget, venue capacity limits or even other financial contributors having a say over the guest list.

2. RSVP ASAP. Once you get that invitation respond as soon as you can. One of my friends didn’t even let the RSVP card go inside her house. She immediately opened the envelope, took a pen out of her purse, checked the appropriate box, sealed the return envelope and dropped it back in the mail box. Done. Easy. I know this because she told me. I know not everyone can know right away as soon as the invitation is in their hands like that but as soon as you check your calendar and know if you can make it or not, send that card. A proper invitation should include a response card and self-addressed stamped envelope for your convenience. It is very stressful for the couple to have to hound their invitees for a response. And the couple needs to know exactly how many guests are coming about a month before the wedding so they can tell the venue, florist, caterer, bakery, to make favors etc. You are very important, so respond quickly!

3. Don’t ask to bring extra people. Again, it’s awkward and difficult to say no. Then you decide to bring extras anyway. Or you didn’t ask ahead of time and just brought extra guests anyway. There are a certain amount of people invited for a reason. If you are allotted 1 guest then that’s all you get. Don’t decide to show up on the wedding day with three guests. That is a real thing that happened at my wedding. I noticed. Again, each guest = $$$. There are capacity limits or budget limits. Please be considerate to the bride and groom and their family. For each guest accounted for there is a chair at the ceremony and reception reserved. Plates, glasses, certain amount of cake and food. Certain amount of centerpieces ordered for each table. The reception is set up a certain way to accommodate a certain amount of people. You are asked to RSVP a certain amount of people for a reason.

4. If you are only coming to the ceremony state that in your response. A few people only came to the ceremony but  did not tell us ahead of time that they could not stay for the reception. So the chair, food, cake, drinks, silverware etc. that was paid for especially for you? Potentially wasted.

5. If you RSVP yes, do everything in your power to make it to that wedding. Again, preparations were made and money was spent for you to be there. Because you said you would be there. Don’t just randomly decide not to go just because you don’t feel like it. If something comes up and you suddenly can’t go because of work, illness or some other serious issue — that is totally understandable.

Overall, I think our wedding was wonderful, a really good day and it ran smoothly. I think the people who didn’t come made up for the unexpected extra guests. We didn’t go over budget and I don’t think anything was wasted. We had an amazing time and it flew by! It looked like our guests were having a lot of fun. I got comments from people after saying they had a blast. And that was the point. To celebrate our union with family and friends and just have good time.

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Bridesmaid Gift DIY: Custom Wine Glass

24 Oct

Custom wine glasses, complete with wine glass charms were the last item I included in my bridesmaid’s thank you gift bags. I again employed some help from Martha Stewart, utilizing the Martha Stewart brand glass etching cream and adhesive stencils like I did when I made the votive candle holders and memorial candle holder. I also added some glitter to the bottom of the glasses with Martha Stewart paint.

Bridesmaid Wine Glass DIY Gifts

I did the glass etching just the same as with my other two glass etching projects. Clean the glass, apply stencils, dab generous amounts of cream, let sit, rinse off and remove stencil. I used their first initial and added a unique symbol on each glass as well.

Bridesmaid Wine Glass DIY Gift

Next I added glitter! I chose a glass paint that had an opal-like finish called Sugar Plum. At first I started dabbing the paint on with a sponge but it left weird streaky marks. So I swirled the paint on with my fingers instead! Note for the future when painting with glitter, wear a glove because the glitter starts to irritate skin! I let the paint dry for about an hour in between coats. The label states it is self-priming adheres to glass and dishwasher safe.

Bridesmaid Wine Glass DIY Gift Glitter Paint

Once the glasses dried I added the finishing touch! I found some charms at Michael’s and used some purple ribbon to tie it around the bottom of the stem.

Bridesmaid Wine Glass DIY Gift Wine Charm

That completes my bridesmaid gift series!  Here are the previous posts if you’re searching for ideas: Bridesmaid Gift DIY: Votive Candle Holder and Review: MiA Bath & Body.

Cheers!

Thank you girls for everything!

Thank you girls for everything!

 

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Bridesmaid Gift DIY: Votive Candle Holder

11 Oct

The thank you gifts I put together for my bridesmaids included three pieces. Although the items they received were similar I made sure to give each special attention to make the gifts as unique as possible. I posted earlier about the MiA Bath and Body products I customized for them here, they received a full set of bath products with a custom fragrance designed specially for each individual.

I thought a great addition to that would be a nice candle holder to light when they are getting their beautification and relaxation on! Just like when I created our Memorial Candle Holder I used my Martha Stewart glass etching cream and adhesive stencils. The glass etching process is really simple. Clean the glass, stick the stencil where you like it, dab on a generous amount of cream, let sit 15 minutes and rinse off the cream with hot water. Peel off the stencil, dry the glass with a towel (I used paper towels to avoid lint) and you’re done!

glass etching votive

Each votive holder had their first initial and a Fleur-de-lis design on either side. I included a vanilla scented candle.

Finished product.

Finished product.

Another view of the votive holders. There were 5 total but since three of my girls have "J" names I left those out. You get the idea right?

Another view of the votive holders. There were 5 total but since three of my girls have “J” names I left those out. You get the idea right?

I really wanted the gifts to be special so I even created custom packaging for the votive holders. I bought gift boxes, labels, ribbon and scrap booking flowers from Michael’s to create a custom gift box for each bridesmaid.

Each bridesmaid had a different flower on top of their box.

Each bridesmaid had a different flower on top of her box.

A bit of ribbon tied around the box and a nice label with their name printed finished off the packaging. Simple, but it came from the heart.

A bit of ribbon tied around the box and a nice label with their name printed finished off the packaging. Simple, but it came from the heart.

I included a special handwritten thank you note for each bridesmaid. I needed to express my love and gratitude in words as well!

I included a special handwritten thank you note for each bridesmaid. I needed to express my love and gratitude in words as well!

There is one more item I included in their gift bags, that post will be coming soon! Here’s a photo of all my bridesmaids posing with us at the wedding. Aren’t they all gorgeous ladies? Each unique and beautiful!

Love these girls so much! From left to right: Jessica (sister-in-law), Jaclynn (bestie since middle school), Marina (older sister), Jessica (younger sister) and Arlissa (friends for several years now, we have a great bond!)

Love these girls so much! From left to right: Jessica (sister-in-law), Jaclynn (bestie since middle school), Marina (older sister), Jessica (younger sister) and Arlissa (friends for several years now, we have a great bond!) Thank you girls for everything you did for the wedding and to encourage our relationship over the years. You each are so special to me! (click photo to enlarge)

Now you tell me, what is a unique gift you’ve given or received? Doesn’t have to be wedding related!

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Wedding Photos

7 Oct

I’m excited to finally share some of our wedding pictures here on the blog! I still plan on sharing a few more wedding crafts, those posts are in the works.

Our wedding was on August 4 at the Wedgewood Wedding and Banquet Center – Buenaventura Golf Club. Our fabulous photographer, David Brand, and his assistant took lots of beautiful and fun photos that really captured the wonderful moments of the day. If you are in Southern California looking for a wedding photographer I definitely recommend David. Please visit his website here and his Facebook page here. He gives great direction, has an eye for capturing candid moments and is very patient and kind. He also took our engagement photos. He’s an excellent event and commercial photographer.

So here are just a few of our wedding photos by David Brand for your enjoyment!

My two best friends helping me into my dress.

My two best friends helping me into my dress.

Dress detail. Absolutely love my wedding dress. It was inexpensive and gorgeous. I felt beautiful and elegant!

Dress detail. Absolutely love my wedding dress. It was inexpensive and gorgeous. I felt beautiful and elegant!

Sealed with a kiss!

Sealed with a kiss!

Absolutely elated!

Absolutely elated!

I love this candid photo of us all just laughing and giving genuine smiles. I also love the bridesmaid dresses. They are so sleek and elegant looking. The dresses are from the David's Bridal Vera Wang Spring 2013 collection.

I love this candid photo of us all just laughing and giving genuine smiles. I also love the bridesmaid dresses. They are so sleek and elegant looking. The dresses are from the David’s Bridal Vera Wang Spring 2013 collection.

My brothers are on the left, they walked me down the aisle. The groomsmen got their tuxes from Men's Wearhouse.

My brothers are on the left, they walked me down the aisle. The groomsmen got their tuxes from Men’s Wearhouse.

It was such a happy day. Looking at these photos just brings back all those happy wonderful feelings of joy!

It was such a happy day. Looking at these photos just brings back all those happy wonderful feelings of joy!

Our Happily Ever After.

Our Happily Ever After.

Wedding photography is definitely something you should not skimp on. I recommend booking an engagement shoot to get to know each other. You spend a lot of time with the photographer and you really need to be able to have a friendly communicative relationship. For those married folks out there, did you have a professional photographer? How about a videographer? We went without a videographer, luckily my father-in-law recorded the ceremony so we will always have that to look back on. Our photographer took tons of photos, 800+ so I feel like the days events were sufficiently captured.

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